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Britain’s Insanely Expensive & Utterly Pointless Wind Power Fiasco Exposed

October 22, 2015

By Paul Homewood

h/t Wolsten

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Intermittency-of-UK-Wind-Power-Generation-2013_2014

Derek Partington, a former Chartered Engineer, has spent a lot of time in the last six years, researching the effectiveness of wind turbines. His findings are damning:

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His report runs to thirteen pages, well worth a read. But some of his tables and charts tell the story.

For instance, how capacity utilisation can vary wildly from month to month.

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And the large amount of time when wind turbines are producing next to nothing. Partington comments the data show no significant difference between the 2011 and 2013 periods and the 2012 and 2014 periods. In other words, the extra wind capacity built since 2011 does not appear to have improved matters.

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He analyses September 2014, the worst month, showing just how irregular output can be.

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A look at the maximums and minimums each day, using one of the typical months, shows a similar story, of just how intermittent output is.

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The next table shows the minimum output recorded each month.

He comments, therefore the assumption that the wind is always blowing somewhere in the UK may be true, but at times it is barely blowing enough to generate any significant energy. In 10 out of the 24 months monitored, the minimum output dropped to 1% of capacity or less at some time. It should also be noted that the minimum output levels have not significantly changed since 2011, even with more wind turbines being installed. The equivalent average minima for 2011 and 2012 were 2.1% and 1.5% respectively.

 

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He concludes:

Conclusions


Over the period studied, January 2013 to December 2014 inclusive, wind turbine operational capacity connected to the UK Grid has increased from 5,894MW to 8,403MW. The operational capacity in January 2011 was 2,490MW; therefore there has been an increase of almost 3.4x over the four year period.
The conclusions to be drawn from the data analysis are:

 1) An increase in the operational capacity does not improve average output. In fact the average monthly capacity factor has fallen over the periods studied, dropping from 33.2% in 2011 to 28.8% in 2014.
2) An increase in the operational capacity does not reduce the periods of low or very low output as measured by the number of hours per year when output was low (less than 10% of installed capacity) or very low (less than 5% of installed capacity). There is a variation from year to year but no pattern emerges. The mean low output over the four years was 1,617 hours/year with a standard deviation of 197 hours/year and the mean very low output was 599 hours with a standard deviation of 96 hours.

 3) An increase in the operational capacity does not reduce intermittency. If taken as a measure of intermittency, the average monthly minimum expressed as a percentage of installed capacity was 1.9% with no significant variation from year to year.
4) Taking maximum rise and fall in output over one hour period as a further measure of intermittency, the National Grid is now having to cope with variations in output of over 1,100MW over one hour periods, with this variation increasing by about 250MW per year. This is very significant as it represents the changes in output which the Grid has to cope with and which has to be compensated by conventional fossil fuelled power stations.
 5) An increase in the operational capacity does not indicate any possibility of closing any conventional, fossil-fuel power stations as there is no correlation between variations in output from wind turbines and demand on the Grid. Often the opposite is true – when demand rises, output from wind turbines falls and vice versa. This has a significant negative effect as back-up has to be provided from conventional, fossil-fuel power stations not only to cater for increase in demand on the Grid at peak times but also to cover for any possible fall in output from the UK wind turbine fleet at the same time.
Therefore, taking the four criteria above, there is no case for a continued increase in the number of wind turbines connected to the Grid.
As stated in my previous report, it is incumbent upon the Government to ensure that the British consumer is getting value for money from industrial wind turbine installations and that they are not just paying subsidies to developers and operators (through ROCs) whilst getting nothing back in return in terms of CO2 emission reductions through the supplanting of fossil-fuelled power generation.
Based on the results of this and my previous analysis I cannot see why any policy for the continued increase in the number of wind turbines connected to the Grid can be justified.

 

The full report can be seen here:

Intermittency-of-UK-Wind-Power-Generation-2013_2014

About the Author

 
Derek Partington has a degree in Physics. He was formerly a Chartered Engineer and a member of both the Institute of Physics and the Institute of Measurement and Control.
He worked for British Steel for 30 years and Local Government for 10 years, in both cases as a Project Manager and Business Analyst.
He has been undertaking research into wind turbines for over 6 years.

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24 Comments
  1. October 22, 2015 12:35 pm

    My wife and I discovered to our dismay that residential land we bought was in the middle of a 131 125m 3mw turbine wind farm. This has led to a multi year battle against the NZ govt. I hope to be able to report on this in the reasonably near future.

    From my experience the facts so cogently laid out in this post don’t resonate with the true believers. It’s a crazy world we live in.

  2. October 22, 2015 12:39 pm

    You may have to revise your recent estimates of the real cost of wind power after this.

    The old CEGB used to use simple approaches to non-reliable suppliers that killed off all but the most competent suppliers to the grid. They penalised non-availability through applying the back-up costs against the supplier.

    Wind generators are paid a premium and are not penalised for non-supply: this is the approach that used to be used to encourage the development of prototypes. It is lunacy for power pricing and back-up pricing is essential, as we have to pay for it and it is now being hidden in some other areas.

  3. R2Dtoo permalink
    October 22, 2015 12:44 pm

    Actual data on wind energy has been showing how useless it is around the world. It should be enough to stop development and actually decommission many existing fields. This would help expose the financial and political links that drive the failed experiments and make people think beyond the scare tactics of the UN/Green Blob.

  4. October 22, 2015 12:58 pm

    Thanks Paul for drawing this to our attention. I hadn’t realised that he’d produced this new report; I only had his report covering 2011 to 2012.

    • October 22, 2015 1:11 pm

      It should also be noted that the analysis only covers metered wind turbines. As these are only about 70% of the total installed wind capacity, the effects of intermittency and rate of change of wind power will be over 40% worse than shown.

  5. Scott permalink
    October 22, 2015 2:01 pm

    Couldn’t the same information be obtained before all of the expensive wind turbines were installed? People can monitor wind speed and they must know how a wind turbine responds to wind speed. It just seems like a simple math exercise to obtain these numbers before a single wind turbine is built.

    • October 22, 2015 2:15 pm

      Of course that would have been the logical thing to do. But renewable energy is a political imperative so logic and engineering never came into it.

  6. October 22, 2015 2:47 pm

    Reblogged this on The Arts Mechanical and commented:
    Yet another study showing why the “renewables,” in this case wind are not a viable source of electricity. Here it is in raw numbers, the variability, low reliability and nondispactibility that are the hallmarks of renewable energy. what doesn’t appear on this report are the consequences, in lost business and higher electric rates.

  7. richard verney permalink
    October 22, 2015 4:03 pm

    It would be interesting to see a summary of their performance during our very cold winters when there was a blocking high over the UK, eg., the winter of 2010.

    It is not simply a matter that the energy is not despatchable upon demand, but that there is a tendency for these turbines to be least efficient just when demand is at its highest.

  8. Peter Duffy permalink
    October 22, 2015 4:27 pm

    I’d love to know what this says – pity it’s in unalterable 5pt font….

    Peter Duffy

    • Gail Combs permalink
      October 22, 2015 6:52 pm

      Peter, use opera and blow it up as far as you can and then click on it. It then becomes easy to read.

    • October 22, 2015 9:10 pm

      I use a simple screenhunter. Any better suggestions would be welcome!! (Bearing in mind I am not Steve Jobs)

  9. October 22, 2015 9:14 pm

    Many thanks to Derek for the time and effort; a job well done.Thanks also to Paul for bringing the info.to our attention.
    When the coffin of the Big Green Lie is finally put to rest,there will be no room for all the nails,but I suspect the good people of Redcar,Scunthorpe, and other places will have a very good idea.

  10. Billy Liar permalink
    October 22, 2015 10:17 pm

    Where’s the link to the report?

    • October 23, 2015 10:11 am

      My bad!

      Just added a link at the bottom, and also under the caption

      Thanks

  11. October 23, 2015 6:02 am

    Reblogged this on Petrossa's Blog.

  12. October 23, 2015 3:46 pm

    Just found an amazing report that shows how wonderful renewables are and the we doubters are all wrong: it was in Construction News. Summary and link as below:

    Renewables lowered electricity costs by £1.5bn in 2014.

    A new report has revealed that wind and solar energy reduced the wholesale cost of electricity by £1.55bn in 2014 and that in the second quarter of 2015 just over 25 per cent of electricity generated in the UK was from renewable sources. Yet the Government has recently announced that it will cut subsidies for renewable sources in an attempt to keep bills as low as possible for families and businesses.
    Read more via edie.net

    This is the opposition and they have the press behind them no matter what twaddle they write. Lay people accept that these erudite people must be right. Have fear!

  13. DD More permalink
    October 23, 2015 6:28 pm

    Paul, any chance he can tell you the longest time frame (days/hrs) that the generation was below a 15% / 20% capacity in order to show just how much backup storage would be required. Then what the cost of the backup would be?

  14. October 24, 2015 2:42 pm

    No wind or Sunshine = no green energy. The more a nation relies on green energy the more you need gas, coal, or nuclear power plants for backup. Green energy is a pipe dream that eventually becomes a nightmare with ever increasing prices (due to subsidies) and power blackouts. I wrote a short post called “Why Green Energy is Bad for Ontario’s Economy.” If you would like to read it, here is the link: https://christopherjohnlindsay.wordpress.com/2015/10/15/green-energy-subsidies/

  15. Sonja A Boehmer-Christiansen permalink
    October 24, 2015 2:48 pm

    Paul
    Would Derek Partington please write a paper for E&E? I would ask myself if I has a contact address. Thanks
    Sonja

  16. October 24, 2015 4:00 pm

    I hope you find this parallel analysis or the European Renewable fiasco equally helpful

    ttps://edmhdotme.wordpress.com/european-renewable-energy-costs-and-performance-2014/

    Accounting for the capacity factors, (the actual electrical output as compared to the Nameplate capacity of the Renewable installation) that are reported by the Renewable industry, the overall capital cost of all European Renewable Energy installations averages out at about €29billion / Gigawatt, whereas the cost of a conventional gas-fired generation is about €1billion / Gigawatt.

    This comparison of course strips out all the positive profitability effects of government regulation and subsidies that are being applied to Renewable Energy: that regulatory support is the only means that make Renewables a viable business proposition.

    The overall value accounting for capacity of Renewables at €29billion / Gigawatt is derived from the combination of:
    Onshore Windpower €14.2 billion/GW
    Offshore Windpower €41.4 billion/GW
    On Grid Solar Power €48.5 billion/GW

    Overall wind and solar power capacity in Europe is ~18%

    The burden of these additional Renewable costs is imposed on consumers via the increase in their utility bills.

    According to these Renewable Energy supporting sources by 2014 European Union countries had invested approximately €1 trillion in large scale Renewable Energy installations. This may well be an underestimate.
    This has provided a nameplate electrical generating capacity of about 216 Gigawatts, nominally about ~22% of the total European generation needs of some 1000 Gigawatts.

    The actual measured output by 2014 from Renewable Industry sources has been 38 Gigawatts or 3.8% of Europe’s electricity requirement, at a capacity factor of ~18% overall.

    The whole 1000 Gigawatt fleet of European electricity generation installations could have been replaced with reliable, dispatchable, lower capital cost Gas-fired installations for the €1trillion of capital costs already expended on Renewable Energy in Europe.

    However Renewable Energy production is dependent on the seasons, local weather conditions and the rotation of the earth, day and night.

    The Renewable Energy contribution to the electricity supply grid is inevitably erratic, intermittent and non-dispatchable. It is therefore much less useful than dispatchable sources of electricity, which can be engaged whenever necessary to match demand and maintain grid stability.

    But that 3.8% Renewable Energy contribution to the grid is often not available when needed and obversely its mandatory use and feed-in obligations can cause major grid disruption if the Renewable Energy contribution is suddenly over abundant.

    The Renewable Energy industry could not exist without the Government mandated subsidies and preferential tariffs on which it depends. So it is not a truly viable business proposition

    Viewed from the point of view of the engineering viability of a nation’s electrical grid, Renewable Energy would never be part of the generating mix without its Government mandate and Government market interference.

    So the Green thinking in its enthusiasm to save the world from an indefinable but probably minimal threat, will destroy civilisation long before the world fails from excessive overheating from CO2 emissions.

    references:

    EurObservER-Wind-Energy-Barometer-2015-EN-2.pdf
    http://www.eurobserv-er.org/wind-energy-barometer-2015/
    EurObservER-Photovoltaic-Barometer-2015-EN.pdf
    http://www.eurobserv-er.org/photovoltaic-barometer-2015/

    Cost comparisons are have been clearly made by the US EIA
    US EIA electricity_generation.pdf 2015 Table 1
    http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/aeo/electricity_generation.cfm

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